Handbook of Emerging 21st-Century Cities
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Handbook of Emerging 21st-Century Cities

Edited by Kris Bezdecny and Kevin Archer

The majority of the world's population now live in cities, nearly a quarter of which boast populations of one million or more. The rise of globalisation has granted cities unprecedented significance, both politically and economically, leading to benefits and problems at national and international levels. The Handbook of Emerging 21st-Century Cities explores the changes that are occurring in cities, and the impacts that they are having, at the local, national and global scale.
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Chapter 18: Data-driven divides: Smart cities and techno-racial segregation

Monica M. Brannon


‘Smart Cities’ initiatives have been lauded as offering new approaches and mechanisms to manage, plan, and enhance urban spaces and citizen experiences within them. Relying on new technologies, the ‘smart’ descriptor refers to utilizing new tools of efficiency as counter to traditional means of understanding and gathering information about cities and their residents. New technological development is often marketed as civic solutions, yet there is little discourse analyzing how digital and material projects relate to existing racial inequality and what data collection practices mean at the community level. This chapter seeks to fill a gap in literature in how technologies operate as social structures, in particular, how new technological infrastructures in urban spaces exacerbate, alter, or alleviate racial divides. The case under consideration here is Kansas City, Missouri, which represents an intersection between new technology and data-driven initiatives, and is also starkly racially segregated. This chapter examines the effects as parts of the city that are differently measured, and the variances between those that are within and those outside of new data collection practices, modes and definitions of surveillance, and smart initiatives. In short, it addresses technological inequality as it relates to geographical spaces. Specifically, it addresses the ideological intentions that shape the technological outcomes of space that result in a divided landscape. Therefore, taking as the foundation the inequality in the existing space, this research explains how technological ambitions affect it.

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